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MSW admission without experience?


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HI everyone-

I am a professional working full-time in an unrelated field. Have spent a lot of time soul-searching in the past 2 years and have finally arrived at the conclusion that social work is where I want to be. I volunteered with an inner-city school program throughout my undergrad (finished in 2010) and have a ton of other leadership experience running student organizations but other than that do not have any relevant SW experience.

Has anyone who has just gone through the application process been successful with very little experience? I would love to hear from you.

I am currently interviewing for volunteer positions but this will be limited by full-time work, my grades are good (4.0) and my references should be fine but I would like to get an idea of where I stand.

Thanks!

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I am looking to apply for MSW programs, but I also happen to be an undergrad working part time in a SSW admissions office, so I feel like I can somewhat accurately answer this question. There are some people who do get in with little experience. The ones that have little experience are still a lot better than those who have none. In your case, it might be best to discuss your leadership experience and your volunteer work a lot in your personal statement. Even though you say that your leadership positions and other work are not directly related to social work, it is still helpful to talk about if it requires skills that would be good for a social worker to have (and leadership looks good no matter what type of program you apply to). Experience is very important, but that isn't all that counts. It is great that you have a solid GPA, and references help, especially if they again demonstrate skills that would be helpful for a social worker.

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I got into Laurier's MSW program with no social work experience but I do have experience volunteering at CAMH in inpatient units, as well as tons of research experience at two hospitals and two universities. When I was applying I thought that my chances were very slim but I managed to get an acceptance and be waitlisted without direct social work experience.

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I graduated in 2008, and am coming into a social work degree from a corporate IT sales position - if I can get accepted anyone can!!

My biggest ally in this process was the one year of volunteering at a 24-hour crisis center, working with suicidal and depressed individuals. I was working about 50 hours a week at my IT job at the time I began the volunteer work, but the crisis work was inspiring for me, and the schedule was flexible. I volunteered for one 5-hour shift a week, plus an overnight shift once a month. It felt like nothing, once I got used to the emotional toll it took on me. After I completed my year of service and was accepted to a few schools, I did end my commitment there. I miss the work, but I needed to free up some time to get a second paid job to save up for school.

Everyone who has the calling to apply to a school of social work must have some part of them that is cut out for the task. If you didn't, you would be like 99% of the rest of the population who say "are you crazy!? I could never do that kind of work!!". Figure out why you want this so bad and be honest about it! Your essay is so important, so don't downplay why you might not have as much experience as everyone else - talk about how hard you've worked in your current career and what it has taught you about your inner social worker!!

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I think you definitely stand a great chance! Having professional experience - even if unrelated to social work - is impressive and shows that you're willing to stop a career because you want this.

I am going straight from undergrad, but had pretty much zero experience. I was a psych major and mostly focused on research, but I think my teaching job and 3 week volunteer thing I did helped. But what helped the most was getting good letters of rec (definitely get one from the volunteer work you did in undergrad) and being honest in my application/writing a good essay. Also, the most important thing I discovered was applying as early as possible. It made my chance of being accepted somewhere so much better.

Best of luck!

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